The other day I was reading some first-hand accounts of the war in Afghanistan, in Newsweek, as told by several Taliban fighters. Throughout their stories they would refer to various Taliban leaders, and Newsweek would parenthetically point out that said leaders had been killed by Predator missiles. And today I read somewhere that 14 out of 20 Al Quaeda leaders in that neck of the woods have been taken out by Predators.
This made me wonder about the future of the war. Let's assume the conflict drags on forever, technology keeps improving, and the American public loses all interest in funding the hunt for terrorists. What then?
My prediction is that millionaires will start buying time piloting Predator-like drones (drone clones) from home, the same way big game hunters buy licenses. You'll be able to literally fly the drone from your laptop, supported by mercenaries on the ground in the ungoverned region of Pakistan. For a substantial fee, the mercenaries will help you launch and refuel the drone, and act as spotters to help you find terrorists. The wealthy hunter at home will stalk the terrorists via remote control and wait for a clean shot, then BAM!
Your first reaction to this plan is that it would be highly illegal and often unethical, especially when the wrong targets are attacked. But that doesn't mean my prediction is wrong. The customer would be involved in this activity via the Internet, the same way you might access a gambling website if you lived in a town where gambling was illegal. If some country passes a law against remote terrorist hunting via Internet, the wealthy hunter can simply go somewhere that the law doesn't exist, such as Las Vegas. And the mercenaries would be operating in a part of the world with no functioning government. So I don't see the law being an obstacle.
At the moment, I assume this sort of business model would be uneconomical, even for the very wealthy. Drones and mercenaries don't come cheap. But drone technology will continue to drop in price while improving in performance. And mercenaries won't be that expensive once the Pakistani locals start filling those jobs.
Any country with a military capable of stopping the mercenaries will have no incentive to do so, since killing terrorists serves the interest of all existing governments.
I'm guessing that a private citizen can't legally buy a Predator, but as other countries start producing drones, which seems inevitable, it won't be that hard for mercenaries to get them.
What part of my prediction is unreasonable?